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Social Media Misfires

  1. Burned


    Mobile advertising takes up less than 1 percent of advertising spending, according to eMarketer, so there's plenty of room for growth and experimentation. As with any untested field, there's also plenty of room to fumble. Here's a look at some of social media's low points.

    Photograph by GK Hart/Vicky Hart/Getty Images
  2. Research In Motion

    Research In Motion


    Research In Motion (RIM), the smartphone maker losing ground to Apple's (APPL) iPhone and Google's (GOOG) Android, started a marketing campaign in January that focused on users' New Year's resolutions. It designed superheroes to reflect the responses, encouraging use of the #BeBold hashtag. While some fans used it to voice support for the BlackBerry maker, many others appended it to send tweets ridiculing RIM and bashing its brand. "@blackberry You are boldly running your company into the ground #BeBold," wrote Twitter user @benhime33, Mashable reported

    Photograph by Nelson Ching/Bloomberg
  3. McDonald's


    A Different #McDStory

    McDonald's (MCD) used a Twitter advertising campaign in January that used the hashtag #McDStories to highlight the restaurant's use of fresh produce. Some members of the Twittersphere used the hashtag to tell a different story—complaining of vomiting, finding a fingernail in a Big Mac, and even being hospitalized for food poisoning

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  4. Church & Dwight's Femfresh

    Church & Dwight's Femfresh


    Church & Dwight's (CHD) Femfresh, which specializes in feminine hygiene, created a social media firestorm after it used terms including "kitty," "nooni," and "lala" to refer to the female anatomy on its Facebook (FB) page. Commenters called the euphemisms "infantile" and said they denigrate women's anatomy. Femfresh pulled its page from Facebook, according to The Wall.

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  5. Coca-Cola


    Insults on Facebook

    Coca-Cola (KO) posted on its Australian Facebook page earlier this year that it was conducting a social experiment: "Add a word to the person above you to create a happy story!" The page drew hundreds of comments, including obscenities and insults toward earlier commenters.

    Photograph by George Frey/Bloomberg
  6. Pfizer's ChapStick

    Pfizer's ChapStick

    Deleting Posts

    ChapStick, the lip balm maker owned by Pfizer (PFE), posted an image on Facebook of a woman's backside as she's bending over a couch, with the text, "Where do lost ChapSticks go? Be heard at" Comments from people objecting to the image were deleted, which itself drew a backlash, according to Adweek. ChapStick eventually deleted the image and said its ad wasn't meant to offend. (Chapstick took down the ad right away, so no official copy exists. There is a photo circulating web blogs of the ad.)

  7. Gap


    Logo Snafu

    Gap (GAP) customers revolted to a redesigned logo in October 2010, posting more than a thousand comments to the company's Facebook page, most of them disparaging. A fake Twitter account was created to poke fun at the logo, drawing more than 3,000 followers, according to Mashable. Gap responded to the outcry by welcoming design suggestions and calling it a crowdsourcing project. It ultimately ditched the new image, which set the company's name against a white backdrop with a blue square in the upper-right corner, and reverted to the familiar two-decade-old blue-square emblem.

  8. Chrysler Group

    Chrysler Group

    Foul-Mouthed Strategist

    An employee of a company handling Chrysler's new media strategies sent out a rogue tweet: "I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one knows how to f---ing drive," with the obscenity spelled out. Chrysler fired the social media strategist and apologized to the citizens of Detroit, according to CBS News.

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  9. Kenneth Cole Productions

    Kenneth Cole Productions

    Ill-Conceived Tweet

    Amid a political uprising in Egypt last year, Kenneth Cole (KCP) sent a tweet that made light of the matter: "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at … —KC." The posting drew so much criticism on Twitter that Cole became one of the site's 10 biggest topics. An account devoted to parodies of the tweet was created. Cole deleted his message and apologized on Facebook.

    Photograph by Francois Durand/Getty Images
  10. Netflix


    Quitting @Qwikster

    When Netflix (NFLX) announced a plan to split its DVD-by-mail service into a separate business called Qwikster, consumers weren't enthused and took to social media to complain. Only compounding the misstep, Netflix hadn't secured the @Qwikster Twitter handle, which was in use by Jason Castillo, whose profile image depicted a joint-smoking Elmo. Tweets by Castillo include such gems as "bored as s--- wanna blaze" and one that boasted of reaching level 25 on the Original Gangstaz game on his iPhone. Netflix later quit the Qwikster plan.

    Photograph by Scott Eells/Bloomberg
  11. Entenmann's


    Casey Anthony Verdict

    The social media agency for Entenmann's saw a #notguilty hashtag trending on Twitter and joined the conversation with a tweet: "Who's #notguilty about eating all the tasty treats they want?!" It showed up in a stream of #notguilty Tweets relating to the Casey Anthony murder trial verdict. The move was criticized as insensitive, causing the agency to issue an apology and remove the tweet, according to Entrepreneur magazine.

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  12. Qantas


    Hijacked Hashtag

    Australia's largest airline (QAN: AU) kicked off a contest last year asking customers to use the hashtag #qantasluxury to discuss indulgent in-flight experiences. Dissatisfied travelers used the hashtag instead to complain about the airline, including its decision weeks earlier to ground planes to end a union dispute—a move that left travelers stranded around the world.

    Photograph by Sergio Dionisio/Bloomberg